September 27, 2014 Robert Woodford

Style over substance? The rise of the infographic CV

We’re all aware of the adage “a picture paints a thousand words” – a phrase that has found its true worth on the internet. Nobody really goes to the internet to read, so information on the web is usually much better presented in a visual format. Hence the rise of the infographic.

Many people these days have adopted the idea of infographic design when it comes to their CV. Gone are pages of text, replaced by a single, funky, quirky, colourfully-designed one page document. The question has to be asked: Do such CVs benefit those who send them to prospective employers, or do they simply end up in the trash bin?

When it comes to securing employment, sending out an infographic CV may be too much of a gamble. If the role that is being sought has a design element to it, then perhaps an infographic CV is suitable. For roles in sectors that have no design requirements, it seems unlikely that a potential employer is going to be impressed when presented with an infographic CV, in comparison to those candidates who have provided a precise, traditional list of their experience and achievements.

To put it another way, if you were hiring, and had only three interview slots but a dozen CVs, and you’d managed to identify three candidates whose experience and expertise seemed tailor-made for the role you are seeking to fill, would you then exchange one of those interviewees in favour of someone who has the ability to present, reduce and summarise information in a visually-pleasing manner? Visual information has its place, but when it comes to job applications, textual information definitely seems to be the road to take. Hiring managers often like to compare information side-by-side, and when they have to repeatedly search for qualifications and job experience from within a sea of graphics, they can quickly become frustrated.

There’s no doubt that an infographic can be an extremely useful tool, but only when used in the appropriate environment. This article began with one famous adage, and here is another: “you can’t judge a book by its cover”. Sure – a book with a visually-pleasing cover may grab your attention, but if there’s very little substance behind that cover, then it matters not a jot. The same can be said of an infographic CV. It’s best suited as a covering letter or something that can be viewed on a social media page. The information that’s behind that attention-grabber needs to be as strong as possible, as well as being able to answer all the questions that someone whose attention has been grabbed is likely to ask.

If you are asked to provide a CV for a job position, you would not dream of sending in a link to your Facebook page, your Twitter account or even your LinkedIn profile. The same approach needs to be adopted when it comes to your funky, quirky, colourfully-designed one page infographic CV.